scottsburg cemetery
Founded quite early for these parts, 1850, Scottsburg once had ambitions to be the major burg on Oregon’s southern coast, though its inland location insured that to be one more utopian pipe dream. Hunkered down in the gorge of the Umpqua with no flat land to build upon, Scottsburg today boasts a population of retirees and a modest crop of locals. The “gorge” of the Umpqua begins shortly downstream from Scottsburg and continues to a bit above Reedsport and feels like a miniature Columbia Gorge. Herds of elk live along the western extremity of the gorge to the delight of passersby; and from the middle a road claws its way up the hillside to the naturally dammed Loon Lake and the hidden Ash Valley beyond, which only got telephone service post our arrival in Oregon in 1969. These coastal mountain may not be tall, but they’re torturous. Every year they eat people. A few. Nonresidents. People without a good sense of danger. Slipped above the snow line and they’re gone. Poof!

Make no mistake, the Umpqua is a fabled river. The only Oregon river to run through both the Cascades and the Coast Range, it’s a fee-flowing, catch-and-release river that curls out of the mountains from the neighborhood of Crater Lake. Its upper reaches are remarkably free of development, and its central valleys hide exquisite, vinyard-cloaked nooks and crannies. It lives by itself.

The cemetery is divided into older (uprights) and newer (lawn) sections, with an access road splitting the two. Treeless except round the edges and dotted with the occasional shrub. It’s far enough off the highway to be quiet but the surroundings get a tad junky.

Directions:

The tiny community of Scottsburg drifts along the Umpqua River some 25 miles upstream from Reedsport, about where Hwy. 38 crosses from the north to the south side of the river. The cemetery is east of the community. Look for Golden Dr. heading to the east (the highway is traveling north/south here as the river makes a wide loop) from the highway. Take it. Cemetery Rd. takes off from Golden about 200 yards from the highway. There is a cemetery sign at the highway.
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